Posts Tagged ‘nature’

It’s been a good start to the year. Health wise, I’m ok but like all cancer warriors I touch wood when I say that. I’m feeling much better than I was at this time last year however it’s been a long road back, rehabilitating my immune system following chemo and radiation, and also building strength and overcoming physical setbacks. That is cancer for you…the gift that keeps on giving.

I have my last CT scan coming up in the next few months; part of the surveillance oncologists implement following cancer treatment. It will be three years since diagnosis. After the CT scan, providing it’s clear, I will be handed over to my GP for six monthly blood tests, and that’s it. So getting on with things beyond cancer, and working within any limitations treatment has left me with, is a priority for me this year.

Cancer leaves many legacies – good and bad. One of these is an inbuilt ‘I don’t muck around anymore’ mantra. Dysfunction, things that aren’t working out, and old patterns that aren’t in my best interests, are dealt with swiftly and decisively. You learn there simply isn’t the time ‘to much around anymore’. Which brings me to my fight with the sulfur crested cockatoos that visit my home every year, to feast on my pear and apple trees. I love pears. They are soft, full of good stuff, and I eat them every morning. I’ve been waiting for them to ripen, conscious of the cockatoos’ arrival. They came again this year, but I was determined to get them out of my pear trees.

For years I’ve been talking to the birds that nest in the many trees surrounding my home. Call me what you will but I enjoy communicating with them, and they’ve become friends. I have a group of magpies that stand guard around my house, two crows who go walking with me, plenty of parrots who fly close by me, and the cranky plovers who grudgingly accept my presence near their nest because I faced them one day when they were swooping and angrily shook my fist at them. (Sure I might look like a crazy bird person to outsiders, but I don’t really care!).

I decided to try a bit of attitude on the thieving cockatoos, so I looked them in the eye and yelled at them to get off my tree. My partner and sons laughed…the ‘mum’s being random again’ thought crossed their minds. I was undeterred. Next I got a riding crop and waved it in the air at them, making a whooshing sound, and telling them to stay off the pear trees. The cockatoos flew off screeching back at me. For the next two days, it was back and forth until only a solitary bird would land in the tree. I would stare the bird down until it flew off.

Then the cockatoos thought I was a potential friend and began appearing in the gum tree outside my window every morning cawing, not screeching; kind of like saying ‘good morning’. And so my ‘friendship’ with them developed. The pear trees? They by and large left them alone, however I haven’t dropped my guard because they will have another go at trying to get what they want, and I’ll have to try and keep what I have. It’s just the way it works, but they do make me smile.

Anyway, enough mucking around with the cockatoos. It’s time to finish the many writing projects I have outstanding now. That, and a bit of exploring…wherever that may take me this year.

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When I returned home to the farm between uni and finding a job, I began walking the couple of miles down to the front gate each afternoon. It was a hot and dry walk; another big dry had our family farm firmly in its grip.

Undeterred by the heat, and with John Mellancamp Jnr blasting in my ears, I strode out across the paddocks with my eye firmly on the horizon, at the place where an orange sunset met the red earth.

Black crows circled overhead and, despite their caws, there was a stillness and a peace about the land. Somehow the big dry was as natural as the green paddocks that had rolled into a blue horizon only a few years before.

On those hot, burnished afternoons, I loved that land. It spoke to me with a sense of place and of belonging. It was a belonging that drove away all fear; that somehow, if I were to die there and then, its peace and stillness would wash over me and I would become part of it.

I never forgot that feeling or the way a sense of place and belonging can drive away all insecurities; all fears.

I travelled overseas in my youth and across Australia for work. I’ve lived in a city and in other rural communities but I’ve never found a place like my childhood home. It’s not with regret that I look back at that home that was eventually sold, but with gratitude that I was able to experience a childhood in the country.

As I grew into adulthood, I made the deliberate decision not to live in the cities. My spirit craves nature; I need to look at the horizon and everything in between.

Today I live in the country and I’m happy with that decision. I walk out of my front door to trees and birds, snakes and lizards. Every now and then, there is an orange sunset and that sense of belonging stirs. When I get that feeling I know that time is endless, and that our spirits are a part of something much bigger, yet the same, as ourselves.

It’s Saturday; a beautiful and gentle sunny day. Right now I’m overlooking poplar trees swaying in the breeze, a graceful liquid amber and a gnarled (and most likely dead) ghost gum. All things of beauty, even the twisted, dry branches of the gum, still standing despite a lightening bolt hit and a termite infestation.

Like the breeze that feathers my bare arms and cheeks, I’m feeling easy as I also overlook the golf course next door to our home. It’s dotted with the bright colours of the golfers who, literally, play rain, hail or shine.

Today is a good day – a busy day and a relaxing day.

I’ve decided I like good days. They’re the ones with just the right combination of activity, sometimes even action, and that sit back and survey the world, let it pass you by feeling. They are definitely days for positive thinking, for creativity and for enjoying the company of those lovable human beings you were lucky enough to meet in the past, on another good day.

That’s not to say that every day is good. It isn’t; can’t be. You need the dark to appreciate the light; the grey to appreciate the rainbow.

And that’s ok with me. I’ll take it all because that’s what it means to live. What I hope never comes my way is the despair or the bitterness I just can’t shake. I choose to have as many good days as I can, in the here and now and to create memories for me and those closest to me. There is everything right with generosity and little with selfishness.

My word for today is gratitude.

About two years ago, I was caught up in the floods in Australia. As I watched nature’s fury unleased through Hurricane Sandy in the US, it brings back the memories of the shock that comes when you are powerless to do anything but watch the waters rise.

In 2010 it just didn’t stop raining, and hard. In Queensland the rivers and tributaries broke their banks and hurtled toward homes like an inland Tsunami. In NSW, where I am, the floodwaters were gentle in comparison, but just as destructive. I can remember wading waist deep in floodwaters, treading on household items that were floating through the house. In our beautiful rumpus room, with its tallow wood floorboards, the water gurgled up through the cracks. Our fridge floated through the kitchen and into the loungeroom.

In the downstairs bedroom, I remembered a box of photos stored in the corner. I ran to try and retrieve the memories but when I picked up the box, the bottom fell out and the photos and negatives spewed into the floodwater. I tried hard to save as much as I could, but it took just 40 odd minutes for the house to be swamped. When I thought I could do no more, that I was spent, I saw the young face of my teenage son’s best friend. He smiled and simply asked: “Do you need a hand”. Over the next 15 minutes we managed to save an expensive stereo system, antique crockery and several televisions.

Later, watching the Queensland floods, I knew we were the lucky ones. We have an upstairs part of the house that stayed dry and we were able to relocate a fair portion of our household items. But a lot went too – every single piece of furniture that could not be moved was lost, including lounges, chairs, tables, lamps, beds. The worst of all, was the loss of my baby grand piano. That broke my heart and made me cry.

But we were lucky. We had upstairs to retreat to as the floodwaters rose, and we were safe. We fired up the generator on the balcony and boiled a kettle and ate some biscuits as the floodwaters made getting out impossible. It was OK, we would clean up, assess the damage and repair it.

Throughout our ordeal, I noticed a calm fortitude descend – I was determined to be positive. That positiveness enabled me to put one foot in front of the other in the months ahead.

It was a long renovation and rebuild after the floods. It took us one year to rip out the walls, rebuild frames, put the walls back on, paint and furnish. We redid the kitchen completely and the downstairs bathroom. We shopped for new furniture and eventually we got back to normal. It was only months after, when the river began to rise again and another flood threatened that I came close to knowing what it feels like when bad luck keeps stricking. We didn’t flood that time. The Gods were smiling.

There will be many people in the US, and indeed over the world, that will be dealing with the fallout from disasters – floods and earthquakes. They will stay strong because they have to. My thoughts are with them.